After 50, it’s especially important to pay attention to nutrition to maximize health. A healthy diet can lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol, and boost the immune system–all vital during the senior years. In addition, seniors may experience a decrease in appetite as they get older, and they tend to need fewer calories over all, making it necessary to make sure that the calories that are consumed are good quality, and not ”empty”, or devoid of nutritional value.
The USDA recommends that people 50 and older pay attention to the following daily servings.
- Fruits—1-1/2 to 2-1/2 cups
- Vegetables—2 to 3-1/2 cups
- Grains—5 to 10 ounces
- Protein foods—5 to 7 ounces
- Dairy foods—3 cups of fat-free or low-fat milk
- Oils—5 to 8 teaspoons
Additionally, consumption of solid fats, sugar, and salt should be kept to a minimum.
These guidelines don’t have to be hard to follow, and they certainly don’t mean a boring dinner plate. For example, herbs and spices can be used instead of salt to add flavor, and using olive oil to replace bu????er offers a health boost without sacrificing taste. Choosing lean meats and fish can help to reduce fat intake. Favoring whole grains such as brown rice and whole-wheat pasta will increase fiber intake.
Aging can affect the sense of smell and taste, as can certain medications. If this is a problem for you, try adding different herbs to boost flavor, and talk to your doctor about your medications. There might be something else available that doesn’t affect your taste sensations.
If dentures are causing a problem, talk to your dentist. You can also choose softer foods. A properly made fruit and vegetable smoothie can come packed with nutrition and still be easy to consume.
Of course, if you or a loved one is having trouble eating properly because of difficulty preparing food, not remembering to eat, or simply being unmotivated to eat well, it may be time to consider in-home care. Our qualified caregivers will examine your unique situation and create a care plan just for you, which can include help getting healthy meals onto the table. If you think you might need in-home help, we invite you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation.